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The latest Keuchel free-agent rumors

MLB.com

After a seven-season tenure with the Astros that included a trio of 200-inning seasons, an American League Cy Young Award in 2015 and an overall 3.66 ERA, Dallas Keuchel is now a free agent.

Below, you will find a list of the latest news and rumors surrounding the left-hander.

After a seven-season tenure with the Astros that included a trio of 200-inning seasons, an American League Cy Young Award in 2015 and an overall 3.66 ERA, Dallas Keuchel is now a free agent.

Below, you will find a list of the latest news and rumors surrounding the left-hander.

How will Yankees' Paxton acquisition affect Keuchel's market?
Nov. 19: The Yankees got a left-handed, top-of-the-rotation starter on Monday … but it wasn't Keuchel.

New York swung a blockbuster trade with the Mariners to acquire James Paxton. With Paxton about to fill a similar role as Keuchel would have in the Yankees rotation, how will Paxton's acquisition affect Keuchel's free-agent market?

Well, it won't necessarily rule the Yankees out. The Yankees have said they want to add multiple frontline-type arms entering 2019. Paxton is one. There's room for one more. Keuchel might still be on the table, especially since Paxton is still arbitration-eligible for the next two seasons, so he won't impact the Yankees' ability to offer a big contract to another pitcher. And Keuchel is also a different type of pitcher than Paxton -- Paxton is a power pitcher, while Keuchel is a command and ground-ball specialist, who seems like a good fit for Yankee Stadium.

In fact, a source told MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi following the Paxton trade that the Yankees are still prioritizing adding another starter over signing Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, although the specific names offered as targets were Patrick Corbin and J.A. Happ, not Keuchel.

So Paxton's acquisition might also open up Keuchel's market to other teams. The Astros, for one, need starting pitching and could be pushed to try to bring Keuchel back. Keuchel did win the Cy Young Award with Houston just a few seasons ago, after all, and has been a mainstay in the rotation for the Astros' recent playoff runs. Teams like the Angels, Nationals and Brewers might also want to make a play for the 30-year-old.

The Astros had been interested in Paxton, but they wouldn't include top pitching prospect Forrest Whitley in their offer, a source told Morosi. If they're unwilling to part with Whitley in a trade for a frontline starter, a free agent like Keuchel could be their best option.

Tweet from @jonmorosi: Source: #Astros��� refusal to include Forrest Whitley in their offer for James Paxton precipitated #Mariners decision to trade Paxton to #Yankees. @MLBNetwork @MLB

Could Keuchel return to Astros?
Nov. 19: The entry portion of MLB Trade Rumors' free-agent prediction contest closed Sunday night, and MLBTR shared the voting breakdown Monday.

While Dallas Keuchel is considered unlikely to return to the Astros by MLB.com's Brian McTaggart, Houston was the most-selected landing spot by MLBTR's readers, though at just 16.4 percent. That was the lowest percentage for a No. 1 choice any player had.

The Angels (13.8 percent), Nationals (13.5), Brewers (9.9) and Yankees (8.2) rounded out the top five, and 19 teams in total received votes from the nearly 7,000 people who participated.

Keuchel rejected a one-year, $17.9 million qualifying offer from the Astros, so new teams will need to forfeit one or more Draft picks to sign him. If Keuchel signs elsewhere, Houston will receive a pick after Competitive Balance Round B in the 2019 MLB Draft.

The Astros have extended a one-year offer with an option for 2020 to free-agent righty Charlie Morton, according to a report from USA Today's Bob Nightengale, but it's unclear if they plan to make another offer to Keuchel.

What are the pros and cons of the Yankees signing Keuchel?
Nov. 18: Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has made it known he's looking to add two more starting pitchers this offseason, and free agent Dallas Keuchel is among the many potential fits. In an article for sny.tv Saturday, Chris Carelli broke down the pros and cons of New York signing the left-hander.

Carelli touts Keuchel's reliability in the regular season and success in the postseason, and he points out that the southpaw's high ground-ball rate (lifetime 58.8 percent) makes him a good match for homer-happy Yankee Stadium.

But Carelli also notes that the Yankees need a top-of-the-rotation starter, and Keuchel may not be a "slam-dunk option for the anticipated cost," which could potentially be as much as $100 million.

There's also a chance Keuchel has already peaked, as he'll turn 31 in January. The lefty showed some signs of regression in 2018, recording a 6.7 K/9 rate (8.0 from 2015-17) with his lowest ground-ball rate (53.7 percent) since 2012.

Carelli believes the Yankees should view Keuchel only as a fallback option if they can't sign Patrick Corbin or trade for James Paxton.

Finding a match for Keuchel
Nov. 17: Where might former AL Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel land this offseason? MLB.com's Matt Kelly takes a look at five potential teams that could sign him, and how he'd fit with each. 

The Nationals are a potential fit, Kelly writes, as Washington is coming off a disappointing 80-82 season and has payroll flexibility, particularly if Bryce Harper doesn't return. Adding Keuchel to a rotation headed by Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg would make for what would perhaps be the best trio of starters in the NL.

Kelly also lists the Astros, as Houston could re-sign Keuchel. The left-hander has spent all seven seasons of his career so far with the Astros, so there is the familiarity component. And given Lance McCullers Jr. needing Tommy John surgery and Charlie Morton potentially leaving via free agency, Houston's rotation could certainly use Keuchel back.

Cincinnati is another potential landing spot, as the Reds have indicated they're going to be aggressive this offseason in pursuing starting pitching, potentially trying to sign two established starters. Kelly rounds out the list with the Angels, who will be missing Shohei Ohtani and Garrett Richards in 2019 due to Tommy John surgery, and the Yankees, who have made starting pitching their No. 1 priority this offseason.

Keuchel's high ground-ball rate, coupled with his penchant for inducing soft contact, make him a potentially great fit for the Yankees, particularly at the homer-friendly Yankee Stadium. But New York won't be in any rush to ink the former AL Cy Young Award winner to a deal, according to Mike Rosenstein of NJ Advanced Media.

Rosenstein cites former MLB general manager Jim Duquette's piece for MLB.com on players whose free agencies may linger. Specifically with Keuchel, the left-hander's ground-ball rate, while high, dropped from 61.7 percent in '15, to 53.7 percent last season. In addition, his strikeout rate is down, from 23.7 percent to 17.5 percent over that span. There are also many left-handers on this offseason's starting pitcher market, including Patrick Corbin, J.A. Happ, Gio Gonzalez and Wade Miley, not to mention potential trade candidates James Paxton and Madison Bumgarner.

Is Keuchel 'the soft-contact genius of his era'?
Nov. 16: Dallas Keuchel has led MLB pitchers with a 26.9 percent soft-contact rate during his career (among pitchers with a minimum of 1,000 innings pitched over the last seven seasons). His 59.6 percent ground ball rate is also the best in the Majors over that span. So when his agent, Scott Boras, called him the "soft-contact genius of his era," and "the greatest ground ball pitcher in the game," the description wasn't at all far-fetched, as noted by MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal in an article for The Athletic.

In this era of sluggers belting home runs more often than ever before, soft contact and ground balls are premium results for a starting pitcher. Rosenthal notes that though the former AL Cy Young Award winner hasn't been as dominant in recent seasons as he once was, Keuchel has certainly been reliable in those categories.

Could Keuchel's free agency extend into the new year?
Nov. 16: Dallas Keuchel is one of the top starting pitchers on the free-agent market, but that doesn't necessarily mean he's going to sign any time soon.

MLB.com's Jim Duquette speculates that Keuchel may have to wait a bit to land the multi-year, big-money deal he's seeking. One key reason? "The available supply of left-handers could be a factor ... with Patrick Corbin, J.A. Happ, Gio Gonzalez, and Wade Miley joining Keuchel as free agents, as well as Japanese southpaw Yusei Kikuchi, who is set to be posted."

In other words, Keuchel has some competition on the open market. Not to mention, a number of other left-handers -- like the Giants' Madison Bumgarner and Mariners' James Paxton -- are in the mix as potential trade chips, too. While Keuchel may stand out some for his 2015 American League Cy Young Award and overall durability, there are other options -- and cheaper ones at that. 

To ease the burden on their bullpen, could the Brewers consider Keuchel?
Nov. 15: The Brewers won the National League Central and made it to Game 7 of the NL Championship Series while relying heavily on their bullpen, but The Athletic's Jim Bowden thinks the club needs to improve its starting rotation to ease the burden on its relief corps in 2019.

In his story (subscription required) looking at one move each 2018 postseason team needs to make to get back to October, Bowden names Dallas Keuchel as a perfect fit for Milwaukee.

"[Keuchel] would slide nicely in the rotation, bring more leadership, and with his strong character and sense of humor, would be a match made in heaven in the Brewers clubhouse," Bowden writes.

Just four pitchers threw at least 100 innings for the Brewers in 2018, and two -- Brent Suter and Chase Anderson -- didn't appear in the postseason. Overall, the club ranked 19th in innings thrown by starters, and fifth in innings by the 'pen.

MLB Network Radio predicts Keuchel will sign with the Nats
Nov. 14: Might the Nats be a dark horse in Keuchel's market? In a recent poll among its experts, MLB Network Radio predicted that the veteran left-hander will sign with Washington. 

Tweet from @MLBNetworkRadio: 🚨🚨 FREE AGENT PREDICTIONS 🚨🚨The @MLBNetworkRadio team says:Brantley ������ #BravesCorbin ������ #YankeesEovaldi ������ #RedSoxGrandal ������ #AstrosHapp ������ #YankeesHarper ������ #NationalsKeuchel ������ #NationalsKimbrel ������ #BravesMachado ������ #PhilliesPollock ������ #Mets pic.twitter.com/zXhhCHEFXi

Keuchel has been linked to the Angels, Reds, Yankees and Astros, whom he turned down a $17.9 million qualifying offer from earlier this week. Each of the four are in need of starting pitching, but so are the Nats, who beyond Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg have limited depth, with Tanner Roark, Joe Ross and Erick Fedde currently slated to round out their starting five.

After a disappointing 82-80 season, with the prospect of potentially losing Bryce Harper to free agency and with the Braves, Phillies and Mets each looking like they will contend in the National League East in 2019, the Nats all of a sudden appear to be on the outside looking in. 

Video: Free agent landing spots for Cruz, Keuchel, Miller

By adding Keuchel -- who MLB Network Radio's Steve Phillips predicts will sign a four-year, $80 million deal -- the club could fortify its pitching staff with a power trio. The Nats have also been linked to Patrick Corbin, who is widely viewed as the top free-agent starter. 

Keuchel is represented by Scott Boras, who has executed multiple high-profile signings with the Nats, such as Scherzer's in 2015 and Strasburg's in '16. Boras also represents Harper. 

Are the Reds willing to pay up for a top free-agent starter?
Nov. 14: The Reds need pitching and are expected to spend aggressively this offseason, but MLB.com's Richard Justice writes that the contract demands of Patrick Corbin and Dallas Keuchel -- arguably the top two starters on the market -- may be out of Cincinnati's "comfort zone."

Justice notes that the Reds could sign multiple starters, but they may look at less expensive pitchers. Nathan Eovaldi, J.A. Happ and Charlie Morton stand out as attractive options from the second tier.

Another factor that might deter the Reds from pursuing Corbin or Keuchel is the fact that they'll need to surrender a Draft pick to sign either pitcher after both rejected qualifying offers. Given the state of the team, adding a big-name starter won't make Cincinnati an instant contender, but signing two reliable arms would help.

Corbin, Keuchel unlikely to be hurt by Draft-pick baggage
Nov. 13: While some players who rejected the qualifying offer in years past have had trouble finding suitors due to the Draft-pick compensation attached to them, MLB.com's Mark Feinsand doesn't think that will be a problem for Patrick Corbin or Dallas Keuchel.

As Feinsand notes, the market for left-handed starters has shrunk considerably, with Clayton Kershaw re-signing with the Dodgers, David Price deciding not to opt out of his contract with the Red Sox, Hyun-Jin Ryu accepting the qualifying offer from Los Angeles and CC Sabathia re-signing with the Yankees on a one-year deal.

Corbin and Keuchel are arguably the only members of the top tier among all free-agent starters this offseason, J.A. Happ's reliability and Nathan Eovaldi's strong postseason notwithstanding. If any free-agent pitcher gets a nine-figure deal, it's unlikely to be anyone besides Corbin or Keuchel.

Dallas Keuchel